Springing into a new Semester!
Dear Friends of the AUC Art Collective:
Welcome back students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends! We have a lot to be thankful for in the Spring 2021 semester. For starters, the January term was a time for recharging, but also for acquiring new skills and knowledge. Six students participated in an educational exchange with the University of Arkansas and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art by taking the intersession course American Craft: Material Culture and the Contemporary, taught by Dr. Jenni Sorkin (UCSB) in collaboration with the exhibition Crafting America, which opened this month. Students and staff participated in the innovative January Salon, Finding Common Ground: Blockchain and Cultural Heritage, with specialists collaborating from Art & Antiquities Blockchain Consortium and presentations by Blockchain for Social Impact, ConsenSys and the High Museum of Art’s new curator of African art, Lauren Tate Baeza.
As the previous year concluded, we saw a number of new, high-profile positions for African and African American museum and visual arts professionals as well as a flurry of articles signaling the increased pressure to diversify museum staffs, boards and collections. Naomi Beckwith confirmed that the transformation in the art industry our program is designed to lead is not about diversity work alone, “This has to be an ongoing project written into the new formation of institutions. I think this is one of the primary shifts from diversity work—which is just ‘get more in’—to equity work, which is about restructuring how we think and how we function to make diversity a by-product of that.” Indeed, for sustainable structural change, it involves equity, access and inclusion, together with a growth mindset to signal a new way of thinking and doing.
We have a lot in store this spring beginning with a Distinguished Lecture by Franklin Sirmans, Director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami on February 17th; a virtual screening of the HBO documentary Black Art in the Absence of Light; Virtual Career Week, March 8-12; Black Art Futures Design Thinking Competition with Sotheby’s Institute of Art – NY; and our final Distinguished Lecture of the year on April 21st with Morehouse alumnus, Dr. Richard J. Powell, whose latest book, Going There: Black Visual Satire (Duke University Press, 2020), will be the subject of a virtual group read in March and April.